A couple of readers have asked me how one recognizes quality in clothing--both in the retail and secondhand markets. As a total non-sewer, I have to say I have learned a lot from books.
I've written about this book before. I first encountered it courtesy of a friend with whom I was planning to compile a guide to secondhand shopping in New Orleans. Well, the friendship ended as did the idea, hatched in those halcyon pre-Katrina days.
Why is a book on secondhand shopping still in print after 12 years? Because most of the book is on how to recognize quality: in fabric and in construction. It is really good: even buttonholes and button orientation are things to inspect.
Confession: When I was in graduate school and my TAship ran out, I discovered that I was very good at finding vintage clothes. So I did. And consigned them at the Eye of Osiris, the epicenter of the Bloomington vintage world. In another life, I must have been a seamstress or weaver, because I am very good at discerning nice fabric. In fact, I run my hands across the racks at thrift stores. I can always recognize fellow fabric people, because they--like me--look with their hands.
This is definitely a skill you can acquire, simply by going to stores and touching the merch (clean hands, please!). You could follow the path of Terri, at Rags Against the Machine, who will be scoping out shops from low-end to high-end in the coming year.
Try to get a hold of that book. It is fascinating reading.
Do you have any recommendations on how to learn to discern quality?